The Collector, Part IIIn this, the second and final installment of Ida Farrell's essay about taking Arizona Highways global, she explains a missed opportunity.
By Ida Farrell
While Arizona Highways magazine was instrumental in helping me make special connections with people all over the world, I must confess to a missed opportunity. It was May of 2002, when public feeling had turned against the monarchy in Nepal and King Gyanendra had been stripped of most of his power and privileges. I was staying in a hotel in Kathmandu that was located across the street from the royal palace. It was also owned by a member of the king's family. Convinced that I could weasel myself an audience with the king, I schemed to deliver a couple of copies of the magazine to the king personally. That ploy failed miserably, but the king's personal secretary did invite me to the palace grounds, where he accepted the magazines and conveyed His Majesty's regret.
In recent years, I have increased the distribution of magazines as I learned to assess likely favorites and accumulate duplicate issues. For example, while Germany is wild about the Wild West, the people in France favored copies containing images of Ted DeGrazia's art. Cambodia was a bit of a challenge, but I knew the young woman who received the May 1976 issue showing many tribal women in native dress was a good match. I remember my surprise when t school children in Jordan squealed and jumped out of their seats when they saw the balloon on the cover of the November 1989 issue. The teacher told them that she would eventually remove the photos and mount them on the wall so everyone could enjoy them. The Russians may be stoic, but there is a Hermitage guard in St. Petersburg with a big smile on his face because of a copy of the February 1979 Arizona Highways he selected. It profiled Arizona artist Jerry Toschik and his painted birds.
I have many more stories from my travels in Eastern and Western Europe, and Transylvania gets a special mention. Count Dracula was a no- show, but a barkeeper at Bram Castle got lucky. Even the Scandinavians in Svalbard, Norway were not immune to the outstanding western art of Danish-born Olaf Wieghorst, which was featured in the magazine. In Kenya, some members of the Masai tribe actually did a little dance for us when they received a few magazines. There are even a few issues floating around Havana, Cuba. In fact, there are Arizona Highways magazines on all seven continents, including my favorite, Terra Nova, the Italian research station on the frozen continent of Antarctica. Their special copy? The stunningly beautiful Christmas edition from 1981. It still warms my heart and soul.
My most recent exchange took place earlier this year during a trip to the Middle East. While visiting a Bedouin camp near Duba, Saudi Arabia, I placed several issues of Highways on a blanket on the ground and gestured to some young Bedouins to have a look. Two picked up horse-related copies before our guide approached and directed me to present the February 2009 issue — with its Iconic Arizona cover marked with rippling sand dunes — to the Sheik because it caught his eye. I did so directly.
I hope that by leaving behind so many Arizona Highways magazines in the remote corners of the world, and by telling wonderful and historic tales about the extreme beauty of the desert, the dramatic canyons and rock formations, the abundant wildlife, the native people and their art and culture, joy and understanding has visited others and helped them find their destiny, too.
I'm in my twilight years, yet I still have many roads to travel, many magazines to share with the citizens of faraway places. As I travel on, this much I know: Luckily, there will always be someone in the world who is all too happy to take a copy of Arizona Highways off my hands.
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